Thursday, November 10, 2011

Social Justice Event: Occupy Providence!

The Occupy Movement is described as, " is an international protest movement which is primarily directed against social and economic inequality," and "by October 9 Occupy protests had taken place or were ongoing in over 95 cities 82 countries and over 600 communities in the United States. As of November 4 the Meetup page 'Occupy Together' listed 'Occupy' communities in 2,464 towns and cities worldwide."

There is a great blog called  We are the 99 percent and it has pictures and stories of people who have been affected by social and/or economic injustice. This particular blog states, "We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent."

I attended Occupy Providence in the month of October. The opening of the event took place at Burnside Park in Providence, RI on October 15, 2011 at 5pm, and I honestly had no idea what to expect.

One article I found describes Occupy Providence as, "a collection of teachers, lawyers, businessmen, activists and unemployed fed up with the status quo, so much so they are willing to camp indefinitely in the downtown park in solidarity with protests springing up worldwide. Their ranks include toddlers lugged by parents and adults seasoned enough to have protested the Vietnam War. They are public defenders, shop owners, artists, veterans." Occupy Providence is getting a lot of support and the people are going to be allowed to camp out there for a few days by the city, even without a permit.
All of the people who are coming together have one thing in common: they want change. "Many lament that 1 percent of the population is prospering while 99 percent face joblessness, foreclosure and the disintegration of the American dream."

I was really impressed on how the people who came together at Burnside Park. There was no drugs, alcohol, or any illegal activity or violent behavior allowed. Also, many people took part in cleaning up the park before the event started. Even people who are not unemployed and who are not struggling as much are still taking part.

I was also impressed that there was a specific stand where people could tell their own individual stories.

So many people are showing a lot of dedication to this by camping out, by holding out signs and who are planning to stay indefinitely, even though nobody knows how long it will take before any type of change will happen.

website states, "Although we are all victims of the current system, some of us are more victimized than others. As a popular movement, we seek to be accountable to those most directly affected by the system that we oppose: people of color, poor and working-class people, women, queer and gender-queer folk, the disabled, immigrants, youth and the elderly, and others.”
 I have been really surprised at some of the ignorance I've seen toward this movement.

For example, a teacher at a Catholic private high school that I attended for two years, has been posting on Facebook, that the people at the "Occupy" movement need to go home and "occupy a shower" and then they'll be able to "occupy a job." First of all, it disgusts me on the level of ignorance of that statement. Not to mention that he works at a religious school where he was supposed to be teaching, and practicing that God is the only person who should be judging anybody. And secondly, considering he is in the 99 percent, he should be happy that other people are fighting for something he too should be supporting. This affects everybody.
I went another day with my son, about two or three days after the event started, and I was so impressed with all the donations of food and all of the people around just showing some support. A man who I was speaking to there explained to me that we all need to come together because if things continue to go the way they are going, the children in the upcoming generations wont have a future.

Overall, I think this was a really good event. It is really encouraging that so many people are so dedicated in bringing forth change. I am hopeful that this will make an impact on the system of which we live in.

This event can be connected to some of the readings we have done in class. For example, in "The Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's House" Audre Lorde states, "Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference- those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are black, who are older- know that survival is not an academic skill. It is about learning to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish" That quote can be related to the Occupy movement because that is exactly what the protesters are trying to do. They are trying to stand their ground and eventually create a world where it is more fair and people, regardless of what social class they are in, they should be treated with respect. They should have access to jobs and to health care, among other things. She also states, "It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change." Though a lot of what I got out of Audre Lorde's reading what that you can't use the "Master's tools" which are racism and homophobia to dismantle to the "Master's house" which is oppression. The point of her essay was that you can't use tools of oppression to fight oppression, and if you do use tools of oppression to fight oppression, it doesn't fix the problem, it just makes you apart of the problem. However, I still find this reading still relates to the Occupy movement. I think another good point is that the Occupy movements are known as peaceful protests, because though the protesters want to make their point, they do not want to fight oppression with violence, which is another form of oppression.

The second piece, which we watched in class is the film called "People like us." This film had a lot of information in it about social class, and that can be related to the Occupy movement. It had interviews with many people, such as a typical SCWAAMP man who feels as though people in his social class are "nicer, more attractive, and treat people better." It also had a middle aged single mom, who was so poor that her own children were embarrassed of her. She walked ten miles to work at Burger King. Also, it had a young woman who went to college and got a great job and moved away, and even though she technically wasn't apart of her social class anymore because she was no longer poor, she still felt as though she didn't fit in with the upper class and she felt like she didn't fit in with her old class either because she felt that her own parents and her old friends thought that she thought she was better than everybody. This film can be related to the Occupy movement because it reinforces that the way the system is set up, it is almost impossible to successfully leave a social class that you were born into.

The third piece which we read in class that can be related to the Occupy movement is the piece called "Combatting Intentional Bigotry and Inadvertently Racist Acts," written by Blanchard. Blanchard discusses three codes to prevent racial bigotry. However, this is similar to the Occupy Movement because instead of just making it clear to young students about racism. Blanchard states, "Encouraging multiracial friendships and exposing naive students to students of color can help to strengthen the knowledge base of students and decrease the incidents of race." It should be brought to young people's attention that there are different races, sexuality, and social classes. If the fact that there are different social classes besides the middle class, which most people oddly enough class themselves into, there would be less ignorance and more acceptance of the Occupy movement, especially when the people who are expressing ignorant ideas and who are encouraging oppression, are people who are in a lower social class, and who are in the 99 percent.

Feminism can be defined as, "a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights. Feminism is mainly focused on women's issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men's liberation is therefore a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles."

The Occupy movement has a lot to do with feminism because the whole idea of feminism is justice and living in a world where people are treated equally and fair, and I believe that this can go farther than women fighting for equal rights and to be treated the same as men; it can go as far as people in different races fighting for equal rights and to be treated the same as white people; or people who are homosexual fighting for equal rights as heterosexual; or people who are in a lower social class fighting for equality and justice and who want to be treated more fairly and want to be offered higher pay, and health care as well as many other issues that people of a higher social class do not have to worry about, such as, having a small amount of money, and having to decide if you should buy groceries, or put gas in your car so you can get to work, or to pay a bill, or to pay rent, etc.

Here are some pictures I took at the Occupy Providence event, and some videos I found on Youtube about the event:


  1. this is nice i still can not get photos but that what comes with age... i'm just not from the tech era.

  2. such a great discussion of your experience, and the connections to our course... I am so glad you went!